Celebrities and brands boycott Twitter amidst Musk buyout


Image sourced from newsweek.com

Carla Paz, Staff Writer

Prominent celebrities and brands such as Gigi Hadid and Balenciaga have decided to call it quits on Twitter amidst the buyout by tech billionaire Elon Musk. The boycott comes as Musk plans to change Twitter rules to fit his “freedom of speech” vision. 

In Oct. 2022, Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, promptly fired top executives and laid off 3,700 employees. Before purchasing the app, Musk had expressed his goal of changing the platform’s content moderation policies and unbanning users. This change was widely criticized by activists who said this change would bring hate speech and inappropriate content to the app. Once the acquisition went through, advertisers, brands and celebrities decided to boycott the app.

When Musk announced his plans to buy Twitter in April, actor and activist Jameela Jamil tweeted that she would leave Twitter if the deal went through: “I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.” Jamil has not tweeted since Musk acquired the platform.

Other celebrities that have announced their boycott are Gigi Hadid, Shonda Rhimes and Toni Braxton. Hadid deactivated her Twitter account and later said on Instagram that she would not return because the platform had become “a cesspool of hate and bigotry.” Rhimes tweeted two days after Musk bought the platform, “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye,” and has not tweeted since. The day after Musk purchased the app, Braxton tweeted that she would leave the site because it was “no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”

A few celebrities, such as Josh Gad, have expressed their concerns about the future of Twitter but have decided to remain on the platform for the time being. The actor tweeted the day after Musk bought Twitter, “Leaning toward staying, but if today is a sign of things to come, not sure what the point is. Freedom of speech is great. Hate speech intended to incite harm, (with no consequences) ain’t what I signed up for.” Actor George Takei expressed a different opinion than other actors, tweeting in April that he would stay on the app “Should this place become more toxic, I pledge to strive even harder to lift up reason, science, compassion and the rule of law. The struggle against fascism, misinformation, and hate requires tough fighters.”  

As advertising firms advise brands to cut back on Twitter advertisements, many brands have decided to pull back and in extreme cases, leave the platform altogether. On Nov. 14, luxury fashion brand Balenciaga deactivated its account and suspended advertisements. The brand confirmed its leave from Twitter to fashion media such as Vogue and The Business of Fashion but has not given a reason as to why it left the platform. Though the brand has not given an official reason for its deactivation, it’s seen as another brand boycotting Musk’s leadership. Other companies such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Pfizer and United Airlines have announced that they will halt advertisements for the time being.